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Christmases Past …

By October 23, 2022December 7th, 2022Devotional, Lost in Translation

The last several weeks, I have written about things of the past and my memories of childhood friends. In fact, there have been several other things that have happened that have me recalling the past this weekend.

After Christmas last year, we took our main tree in for service on the lights and, lo and behold, the tree was lost. I mean totally gone. Of course, the store was very apologetic and mentioned that they would replace the tree with whatever we chose. That was in January. This weekend, Janet and I were invited to make our selection. It came as something of a surprise as we aren’t even to Halloween yet, but we needed to pick our replacement and the store wanted us to have the pick of anything we wanted. It really was nice of them to extend this courtesy to us.

As I looked at all the choices, I was transported back to the time of choosing live trees with my parents at VanLaten’s Farmstand behind our house in Beverly. Back in those days, Dad would never have thought of having an artificial tree and selecting exactly the right Balsam for our home was an annual treat.

Nowadays, most of the artificial trees seem to have perfect shapes and don’t leave much room for individuality. That was, until this weekend. Sure enough, we noticed a tree that was very different from anything we have ever had. It had room for our wonderful ornaments that Janet and I have collected over almost half a century together. In fact, this is our 50th Christmas together! And it didn’t look all that full – you know, it didn’t look “perfect.” Lots of open spaces…

Now, we aren’t talking about a Charlie Brown tree here. It’s just that we have taken a chance on something out of the ordinary to display our most special ornaments in the centerpiece tree of our home. Mind you, we would never have thought about a new tree if ours hadn’t been lost. But it is what it is… I even asked the employees about why people don’t buy trees that looked like this one…

We were told that most people try to get away with as few lights and ornaments as they can. This tree was special – it was designed to show off the ornaments and not necessarily the lights, tinsel or ribbons. Hallelujah – that’s for us! Out of the ordinary is something we default to and so much in our wheelhouse. Done… we picked it up Friday afternoon…

Since then, I have been thinking about the old Christmases of my youth. Each year the ornaments came out, having been so carefully wrapped the year before. And it was like renewing relationships with old friends. Dad would put the lights on and then we all hung ornaments, telling stories about our recollections of when and where we got them.

Janet still has ornaments from her mother’s childhood that find their way onto our tree each year. They are so special, but it all starts with the tree. And I have to say that I am really excited about the upcoming season of Christmas this year. In fact, the Hallmark Channel has just started its Countdown to Christmas this weekend.

Since they were little, Janet have told stories to our children and grandchildren about how it was in the good old days… remember the string tinsel that had to be put on several strands at a time? And, oh, what a mess to try to save it at the end of the season for next year… and when those little lights came out? Before that, everything was those larger bulbs that had to be attached to each branch – how I remember Dad obsessing over their placement.

Now, I am not wishing Halloween or Thanksgiving into the past – and we aren’t setting up our Christmas decorations – not even close. But I couldn’t help but get a little bit in the mood when I walked through the forest of trees this weekend and was invited to choose anything we liked. And it didn’t hurt to watch a few Hallmark movies along the way!

Our verse for tonight evokes memories of the past. After all, part of our identity is the family and the history that has brought us to this point. And all holidays throughout the year remind us of sights, sounds and smells that are indelibly imprinted in our minds and our hearts.

Moses, the author of Deuteronomy tells us, in Deuteronomy 32:7, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” As we enter the last quarter of the year, the one most filled with holidays, my encouragement is that each year we have the chance to recall our own days of old and pass along these memories to our children and grandchildren – creating new memories for them along the way.

My prayer is that the art of storytelling will not fade away. Oral histories and traditions are way to0 important to forget. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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